Failure To Return Rental Vehicle
The universally accepted definition of theft is an unlawful taking. The taking can be temporary or permanent, but must be intentional. It is not criminal theft if the accused reasonably believed that he or she had some sort of ownership right in the property. Thus, the crime has a knowledge element as well. But what happens when a person legally gains possession of something and then fails to return it? While this sort of endeavor does not fall under the universal theft description, it is still a criminal act. And, when dealing with motor vehicles there is actually a specific law that addresses this crime. If a person agrees to lease or rent a car for a specific period of time and fails to return the car at the end of the lease then he or she may be subject to both criminal and civil liability. Failure to return a rental vehicle is a surprisingly common crime, and rental car companies can be extremely harsh when it comes to criminal prosecution. In our experience we have found that they don’t just want their car back, but these companies also want large amounts of restitution and sometimes even jail time for the defendants. If you or a loved one is charged with this offense do not take the risk of walking into a courtroom unrepresented. You cannot simply return the car and expect everything to be ok! Benjamin Herbst is an experienced theft crimes lawyer and has handled numerous failure to return rental vehicle cases. Benjamin is available 24 hours a day to discuss your case, and he is more than willing to meet with you wherever is convenient to plan your defense.
Under Maryland law, failure to return a rental vehicle is a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of one year upon conviction. There is also a maximum $500 dollar fine. Just because this crime is a misdemeanor with a relatively low maximum jail sentence does not mean it should be taken lightly. As mentioned before, rental car companies and their employees show little sympathy for customers who fail to return their vehicles. They will come after former customers both in civil court and in criminal court. This is true regardless of whether the former customer deliberately decided to keep the vehicle or abandoned the vehicle. But just because a rental care company or the state decides to pursue legal action does not mean that you or a loved one is out of options. First time offenders may be eligible for diversion programs that can result in cases begin dismissed, and there are a variety of defenses that may be available both before and during trial. The Herbst Firm is committed to exhausting every possible route to best defend your case, including filing motions to suppress and motions to dismiss. And we are always prepared to take your case to trial if a satisfactory resolution is not available. If you or a loved one is charged with failure to return a rental vehicle or with any type of theft crime contact our office today. We handle cases in all Maryland jurisdictions, and we have extensive experience representing clients who live out of state.